Inter-Asian Connections IV Workshop - The Sounds and Scripts of Languages in Motion
Professor of Modern Chinese Literature & Culture
Senior Lecturer, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia-Pacific
The Australian National University
Call for Workshop Papers
In recent years, the burgeoning of interest in interconnectivity and assembled spaces across Asia has opened up new areas of inquiry. Historically fluid and contested boundaries continue to turn Asia inside out, forcing to the surface old and new networks that are now colliding with one another in innovative ways. Amidst the different ongoing conversations, however, the question of language has been remarkably absent. To be sure, the movement of ideas, things, and people forge important material nexes of transculturation and influence. Our emphasis on language, however, proposes a crucial interface that tracks connectivity through the changes in the sounds and scripts of language. These include the institutional governance as well as everyday innovations of multilingualism and multiculturalism, such as language policies, oral transmission, dialects, mother tongues, pidgin creolization, literature and literacy, and national languages.
Our proposal is prompted by the recognition that language has been, and is, at the heart of most inter-Asian connections. Whether one considers the 8th century translation of Buddhist texts from Sanskrit into Tibetan, the rendering of the Quran from Arabic into Javanese or Urdu in periods of religious and cultural expansion, the lasting impact of British and Dutch colonial language policies on post-colonial India and Indonesia, or the long-standing use of Malay as a language of trade, travel and Islamization, language provides a pivotal lens through which to explore the histories, textures and meanings of inter-Asian connections. From East Asia to Southeast Asia, Chinese, once the common script of Vietnam, Korea, and Japan, and later a minor ethnic marker in hybrid languages like Baba Malay in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, compels one to rethink the standards of language. As the formal and informal rules of dialects and national languages adapt to new formations of intraregional and local-global influence, even purported global languages--such as English--are becoming locally inflected variants.
Straddling questions of cultural translation, the media of written and oral cultures, inter-area dynamics, and identities in motion, this workshop invites participants to join in a collective examination of how different usages of "language" exemplify interconnectivity across literature, cultural studies, anthropology, linguistics, sociology, history, political science, art history, and religious studies.
Paper proposals should address an inter-Asian topic, question, process or event through the prism of language. Possible themes include, but are not limited to:
- Histories of particular languages across time and/or space
- Legacies of colonial language policies in post-colonial Asia
- The politics of national languages
- Language and power in Asian contexts
- Script continuity and change
- Inter-Asian translation
- Languages of contemporary popular cultures
- Languages within and across national boundaries